Earlier this year two men died in their bunks of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the highly toxic fumes given off from a poorly maintained butane gas cooker.  The cooker which was located in the wheelhouse had been lit to heat the wheelhouse and sleeping area.  A carbon monoxide alarm was not fitted.

You cannot see feel, smell or taste CO but it is highly poisonous.

CO in excessive quantities is produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal. When CO enters the body, it replaces the oxygen in the bloodstream and prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to the heart, brain, body tissues and organs.

Be aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning

Common symptoms include headache tiredness and being sick.

The greater the amount of CO the more severe the symptoms will get leading to weakness, loss of balance and memory.

Extreme levels may well cause collapse, unconsciousness and death.

Prevention

The safety message is straight forward, ensure that any on board appliances or equipment that burn carbon based fuel are properly installed, in good working order and have adequate ventilation.  Only use equipment for the purpose for which it was designed.  Fit a CO alarm and test it routinely.

The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is identified as a critical safety issue in the RYA's Safety Advisory Notice.  Read the Safety Advisory Notice and find out more information on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Fitters competent and registered to fit and commission LPG systems on boats can be found on www.gassaferegister.co.uk by using the advanced search options to select LPG on boats.